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Kerry on Jobs
St. Louis, MO:
Sept. 10, 2004
Kerry: I think sending jobs overseas and having a tax cut - tax benefit that actually rewards the company that goes overseas, I think that's "W." Wrong choice, wrong direction, wrong leadership for America. And the right thing to do is to start creating those jobs here, and to do smart things that help us invest in science and technology, and create the high paying jobs of the future so we're not settling for jobs that pay us $9,000 less than the jobs that are going overseas.
Kerry is still claiming that jobs being created now pay $9,000 less than jobs that were lost, a fanciful figure as we've noted previously.
In a recent speech in St. Louis, for example, he referred to "jobs that pay us $9,000 less than the jobs that are going overseas." But that relies on figures from the liberal Economic Policy Institute comparing average pay in broad industries, not the pay of specific jobs that have been lost or gained. Not even EPI claims that its figures show what Kerry says, a $9,000 difference between new and old jobs.
And as we've pointed out before, more detailed government data that focus on occupations, rather than industries, tell a different story. Higher-paid occupations, like managers (who can be in any industry) and health professionals, are growing faster.
A new study of job quality, by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, states that "Recent estimates of higher-paying industry job growth have rebounded," as typically happens as the economy expands.
And if new jobs are really paying $9,000 less than the old ones, as Kerry claims, how can average hourly earnings and average weekly earnings be going up? The latest figures on wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Sept. 16, show that average hourly earnings for rank-and-file workers (about 80% of the private workforce) were 2.6% higher in August than they had been when Bush took office, even after adjusting for inflation.
Kerry would be accurate in saying that today's jobs may be paying less. But the fact is economists disagree about that, and certainly can't calculate an average dollar difference.
Kerry's stump speech seldom fails to attack Bush for a "tax benefit that actually rewards the company that goes overseas," as he did in the St. Louis speech. But as we've said before, that tax provision was there long before Bush took office, and even liberal economists agree it's a pretty small influence on where companies locate factories. Changing that tax provision would do very little in terms of US jobs.
Bush on Kerry's Spending
Sept 13, 2004
Bush: ...today, there's a independent study, which has been released, which says that his plan would cost the taxpayers $1.5 trillion in new government spending. Not only is his plan going to increase the power of bureaucrats in your lives, but he can't pay for it unless he raises your taxes.
Bush currently is quoting a new study estimating that Kerry's health-care plan will cost $1.5 trillion over 10 years. "He can't pay for it unless he raises your taxes," Bush declares.
The study is from the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington that describes itself as favoring "limited government" and "private enterprise." Previously, the Bush campaign quoted a much lower estimate from Ken Thorpe of Emory University in Atlanta, a health-care finance expert who worked in the Clinton administration. Thorpe disputes the AEI study, saying it is full of mistakes. We can't resolve that argument, but whether the true cost is $1.5 trillion or $638 billion, Kerry's plan is clearly much more expensive than what Bush proposes.
But interestingly, both the Thorpe study and the AEI study agree on two things. First, both studies estimate that 27 million currently uninsured persons would get health coverage. By both estimates, Kerry's plan would cover several times more additional persons than what Bush proposes. The other thing both studies confirm is that Kerry's plan would reduce health-insurance premiums for those already covered, something it is designed to do. (The AEI study calls this a "windfall" and seems to see it as a flaw, rather than a positive factor.)
Bush's speech is misleading when he says Kerry would have to raise "your" taxes to pay for his health plan. Kerry does propose to raise federal income taxes, but only for those making $200,000 a year or more. Bush would be accurate if he said Kerry would raise taxes for "some of you."
Bush on Jobs
Sept. 9, 2004
Bush: Our country has now seen 12 straight months of job gains. Over the past year, we've added 1.7 million jobs. That is more than Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and France combined. (Applause.) Unemployment is down to 5.4 percent. That is nearly a full point below the rate in the summer of 2003, and it is below the average of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s. (Applause.)
Bush also says "over the past year" the economy has added 1.7 million jobs, and that's true. And he says the 5.4% unemployment rate for August is lower than the average rate for the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's, which is also true. Here are the averages for those decades, derived from Bureau of Labor Statistics figures:
Average Unemployment Rates
1970's . . . .6.2%
1980's . . . 7.3%
1990's . . . 5.8%
In fact, the current jobless rate is just a little better than the 5.6% average unemployment rate for each month since 1948, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track.
What Bush leaves out, of course, is that 5.4% is slightly worse than the average for the full eight years of Clinton's two terms, which was 5.2%. And not nearly as good as the under-4% rate reached in several months of Clinton's final year. Bush also says nothing about the fact that as of August, the number of persons employed in payroll jobs was still 913,000 below what it was when Bush took office in 2001. At the current rate of growth it is almost certain that Democrats will be proven right about Bush being the first President since Hoover to suffer a net job loss over a full four-year term.